Sahika Smith thought she’d lost her partner forever, when his heart stopped for 10 minutes.
However, when Paul Smith woke from his coma two days later, his first words to Sahika were: ‘Will you marry me?’
But it seems not only did 63-year-old Paul survive his cardiac arrest, he also forgot about the proposal shortly after.
So 38-year-old Sahika had to politely remind Paul that she’d agreed to spend the rest of her life with him.
Banker Paul collapsed with chest pains at his home in Deptford on February 12 2019, following dinner with a friend near London Bridge.
Recalling the terrifying incident, his now wife Sahika said: ‘I knew it was going to be a very long night when I saw Paul in pain and crying. He was a 61-year-old man reduced to tears by the pain he was in.
‘Those 10 minutes when his heart stopped felt like a lifetime.
‘I thought he was dead, I was terrified. I heard his last breath, and I thought that was it.’
When Sahika picked Paul up from the train station that evening, she sensed something was wrong – so she called 999.
She adds: ‘Paul stopped me twice from calling the ambulance, but I ignored him.
‘I’d never seen anyone have a heart attack before, but my intuition told me what was happening was serious.
‘We were so lucky the ambulance arrived so quickly.
‘The paramedic who performed CPR said she had only just completed her training and Paul was her first cardiac arrest.
‘I’m so grateful to the two young paramedics who saved his life. Every day I spend with him now feels like I’ve won the lottery.’
Paul was then taken to University Hospital Lewisham and placed in a medically induced coma, to stabilise his heart.
Over the next few days, doctors were unable to tell Sahika how long he would remain in a coma for.
The former waitress adds: ‘I spent the whole time crying.
‘They tried to wake Paul up again, but he wasn’t responding to anyone. He was like a zombie.
‘He was pale, and strange looking. I could tell when they were trying to wake him up that it was not positive.’
However two days later, Paul woke up and asked his partner to marry him – with Sahika agreeing immediately.
Sadly the romantic gesture was slightly lost on Paul, as when he recovered he had no recollection of anything that happened 36 hours before or after the coma.
But he was thrilled when he found out.
Paul said: ‘I was delighted to find out I was engaged.
‘In that moment, I must have realised I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Sahika.
‘It could have been an utterly catastrophic day, if I’d had the cardiac arrest on the train and not at home.
‘Timing was everything. I could have died and I’d never have all of this.’
After spending 10 days in hospital, Paul was then transferred to London to have stents fitted to hold his arteries open.
Now 18 months on, Paul and Sahika are happily married and the 63-year-old has recently become a grandfather.
‘I am so grateful to the paramedics and to Sahika, who realised how poorly I was,’ he adds.
‘If it wasn’t for all of them, I wouldn’t be here now.
‘I’m so happy. The experience hasn’t changed me, but it’s given me more gusto. It’s given me more appreciation for life.
‘Our anniversary each year is a reminder of how brilliant and beautiful life is.
‘Eighteen months on, I’ve met my first grandchild, which wouldn’t have happened without these amazing people. That’s so significant to me.’
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